It’s tempting to look for a “magic cure” to hack your healthspan. The truth is there is no quick fix to slow the aging process. There’s no magic — but there is science. Our experts have found that there are clinically studied and proven lifestyle habits that will enhance your healthspan and longevity. The trick is committing to them consistently.
Your first priority should be “the non-negotiable habits,” says Dr. Ryan Greene, DO, MS, Lifeforce Clinical Advisor and Co-Founder and Medical Director at Monarch Athletic Club. “These are quality sleep, hydration, nutrition, optimizing hormones and metabolic markers, and movement. Whatever else you’re doing for your health, you need to focus on those first.” (The Lifeforce Membership can support you in those areas. With our diagnostic, you’ll learn your hormone levels and other key biomarkers. Then, you’ll receive personalized guidance from a Lifeforce Physician and Health Coach to improve your nutrition, sleep, and other lifestyle habits.)
Once you’ve optimized the “non-negotiables,” you’re ready for the next step in your wellness journey. Keep reading for three research-backed lifestyle habits that will take your results to the next level. You may have heard of these practices — we’ll break down what you really need to know, what the science says, and how to try them at home.
Heat and Cold Therapy
There’s a reason Tony Robbins calls heat and cold therapy his “top two biohacks that have had a profound impact on my well-being.” In his book Life Force, he writes, “The science is now showing that they can stimulate your immune system, lower your blood pressure, soothe inflammation, increase cardiovascular strength, and reduce your chance of having a stroke or heart attack — all in 20 minutes!”
Saunas are a healthy way to heat things up. One study of 2,315 middle-aged men in Finland found that those who regularly used a sauna were 50 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease and 40 percent less likely to die from all causes of premature death.
Cold therapy modalities — such as cryotherapy, cold plunges, and even cold showers — have cool benefits for your mental health. “Cold exposure is a pain stimulus. The body doesn’t like it, but after a period of exposure, it causes a reflexive dopamine response that helps improve mood and focus and reduce anxiety,” Dr. Greene says. Cold therapy also lowers core body temperature and eases stress to support sleep — a non-negotiable to enhance your healthspan.
How to practice it:
For heat therapy, Dr. Greene recommends infrared saunas specifically. “They aren’t as hot as other types of saunas, but the infrared light energy helps increase nitric oxide production, which increases blood flow and helps our liver detox,” he says.
He also suggests a combination of heat and cold called contrast therapy. The contrast, specifically, is beneficial in terms of “increasing blood flow, helping the body detox, and helping maintain balance within the body,” says Dr. Greene. He proposes a routine of spending eight to 10 minutes in the heat, followed by two to three minutes in the cold for two to three rounds, always ending in cold. “If you can do that a couple times a week, that’s a good regimen.”
Grounding, also called Earthing, is the practice of reconnecting to the Earth through physical contact such as walking or lying on the ground. “The energy of the Earth can help reduce inflammation and balance out positive and negative charges in the body,” Dr. Greene says. Emerging research shows that grounding may affect the ‘living matrix,’ which is the central connector between living cells. The electrical conductivity in the matrix may support the immune system and help restore the body’s natural defenses, similar to the function of antioxidants.
It all may sound a little space-y, but grounding is, well, grounded in science. Studies show that grounding may help support cardiovascular health, reduce pain, boost mood, and lower inflammation. The inflammation piece is especially important for longevity because “inflammation causes our body to accelerate the aging process,” says Dr. Greene.
How to practice it:
Get grounded by getting up and out first thing. “The best way to start your day is to get outside in the sunlight and get your feet on the ground,” says Dr. Greene. “We are way too motivated to hit the snooze button and stay warm under the covers. When you get outside and expose yourself to nature and colder weather in the morning, it will energize you, stimulate your metabolism, and help you feel balanced for the day.” If you’re able to, take off your shoes and put your feet in the grass or sand. Direct physical connection with the Earth is the best way to balance out the body’s electrical charges for maximum detox benefits. “Earth has a negative energy field and it neutralizes some of the metabolic waste products in your body,” says Dr. Greene.
Intermittent fasting has become one of the most popular wellness trends in the world — and the science backs up the buzz. Like its name suggests, IF is a practice that alternates between periods of eating and fasting. For example, you may fast for 16 hours and eat within an eight-hour window, or fast for 14 hours and eat within a 10-hour window. While fasting, “individuals are choosing not to consume any food or caloric intake other than beverages that don’t have calories or sweeteners,” says Dr. Greene. (Think water, black coffee, or unsweetened tea.)
Leading longevity experts — including Dr. Valter Longo, Director of the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California, and Lifeforce Co-Founder Dr. Peter Diamandis — are big fasting fans and practice it themselves. In Life Force, both hail IF as “extraordinarily effective” for promoting longevity, noting it “can be a powerful weapon against illnesses like obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, asthma, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s.” In fact, Dr. Longo says that fasting may be more natural for us as a species. According to him, “In the U.S., people tend to eat over a period of about 15 hours, without ever taking a sustained break. But when you think about human evolution, you realize that we were never built to live like this.”
Giving our bodies a rest from digestion can actually optimize our cell function, says Dr. Greene. “The data on IF shows that when we’re not constantly introducing energy into our bodies by snacking, our cells are required to become more metabolically efficient. The body eliminates underperforming cells to make room for more resilient, high-performing ones.”
Research also shows that intermittent fasting can help protect against chronic disease, improve insulin sensitivity, reduce inflammation, and promote weight loss. There is some evidence that IF can optimize fat-burning hormones and enhance metabolism. Plus, the practice helps us be more mindful of what we eat. “When we are limiting our eating window, we tend to eat a more appropriate amount of calories instead of just snacking mindlessly all throughout the day,” says Dr. Greene.
How to practice it:
Dr. Greene’s advice is to “start low and go slow.” In the beginning, choose a shorter fasting window that you can successfully stick with. “If things are working and you’re getting close to your goals but haven’t achieved them, you can get a little more advanced and lengthen your fasting window,” he says. Learn more about IF and how to incorporate it into your life in this blog post.
You can start slow with all these habits, and build your way up to a consistent routine that will boost your healthspan for years to come.
Curious how your healthspan stacks up? Take the Lifeforce Diagnostic to get a closer look at your metabolic health, hormone balance, and critical nutrient levels. Also check out our Peak Healthspan™ product here.
This article was medically reviewed by:
Ryan Greene, DO, MS, Board Eligible Integrative and Preventive Medicine Specialist
Vinita Tandon, MD, ABIM Board Certified in Endocrinology and Metabolism